by Katherine Seeley


This showpiece cake is easy to make and easy for the little ones to eat. Don't forget to remove all decorations from the cupcakes before you serve them  — they look great in photos, but might pose a choking hazard if eaten by a small child.

Chocolate sour-cream cupcakes

1 box dark chocolate cake mix
1 ¼ cup water
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with paperbaking cups. In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, water,eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream, and cocoa powder. Beat on low speed until batter is moist. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 more minutes.

2. Fill muffin cups three-quarters full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back to the touch. Cool completely on wire racks.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Next: Cream Cheese Frosting{C}

Cream cheese frosting

8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tsp. milk
red, yellow, and blue food coloring

1. In medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract until smooth. Scrape down bowl several times. Once there are no lumps, add sugar and milk; beat just until icing is smooth.

2. Divide icing between 3 small bowls. Add drops of one color of food coloring in each bowl. Stir until icing is tinted to your liking. Frost cooled cupcakes.

Yield: 2 cups, enough to frost 24 cupcakes

Next: Cake Decoration and Assembly

Cake decoration and assembly

2 cups dried, sweetened coconut flakes
green, blue, and red food coloring
1 cup water
sliced, blanched almonds
Gummy Worms
assorted Fruit Roll-Ups
black licorice strips
two M&Ms
small paintbrush

To tint coconut: Combine 20 drops of green food coloring with 2 tsp. water; toss with coconut flakes.

To make marzipan bees: Start with a small round of marzipan. Shape one end slightly thinner and pointed. While marzipan is still soft, poke sliced, blanched almond "wings" into the body. Mix blue, green, and red food coloring to create black; paint thin stripes and dot eyes.

To make butterflies: Use scissors to cut out butterfly wings from Fruit Roll-Ups. Next, cut out small shapes to decorate the wings. Attach shapes to wings with a dab of water. Use a Gummy Worm for the butterfly body; attach to wings with water.

Assembly: Using a serving tray, sprinkle tinted coconut over entire tray. Arrange frosted cupcakes in "grass" in a squiggly caterpillar shape. Cut black licorice into small pieces and place them on cupcakes for legs. On first cupcake, place licorice antenna and M&M eyes. Arrange butterflies and bees in the "grass." Finish with a candle.